Modulation of electronic states in two-dimensional materials can be achieved by using in-plane variations of the band gap or the average potential in lateral quantum structures. In the atomic configurations with hexagonal symmetry, this approach makes it possible to tailor the valleytronic properties for potential device applications. In this work, we present a multiband theory to calculate the valley-dependent electron transport in graphene-based lateral quantum structures. As an example, we consider the structures with a single interface that exhibits an energy gap or potential discontinuity. The theoretical formalism proceeds within the tight-binding description, by first deriving the local bulk complex band structures in the regions of a constant gap or potential and, next, joining the local wave functions across the interface via a cell-averaged current operator to ensure the current continuity. The theory is applied to the study of electron reflection off and transmission through an interface. Both reflection and transmission are found to exhibit valley-contrast behavior that can be used to generate valley-polarized electron sources. The results vary with the type of interfaces, as well as between monolayer and bilayer graphene-based structures. In the monolayer case, the valley contrast originates from the band warping and only becomes sizable for incident carriers of high energy, whereas in AB-stacked bilayer graphene, the vertical interlayer coupling emerges as an additional important cause for valley contrast, and the favorable carrier energy is also found to be drastically lower. Our numerical results clearly demonstrate the propitious valleytronic properties of bilayer graphene structures.
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